Friday, September 21, 2007

Plenty of flu shots available, U.S. health officials say

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention kicked off its seasonal flu vaccine campaign this week with good news: There should be plenty of flu shots on hand this year.

Although shortage and distribution issues have caused problems with flu shots in the United States in recent years, a whopping 132 million doses should be available in the United States for the upcoming flu season, according to CDC.

The U.S. flu season typically begins in October, which means now is a good time to start thinking about getting your flu shot. But because seasonal flu peaks in February, you can get a vaccination through January and beyond and still see a benefit, said CDC Director Julie Gerberding, MD, MPH, at a Washington D.C. news conference.

"The vaccine works," Gerberding said. "It should be used." Sometimes people don't get vaccinated because they think the vaccine causes flu, Gerberding said, which is simply "not true."

Because kids and seniors are at a high risk for flu, it's especially important that they get vaccinated. Unfortunately, during the 2005–2006 flu season, only one in five children ages 6 months to 23 months was fully vaccinated. Vaccination rates for seniors also lagged below national targets.

If you do get sick from the flu, antiviral medications can help, especially if you have asthma or other chronic conditions, health officials said. Antiviral medications, which can be obtained with a prescription from your doctor, can make flu symptoms lighter and the illness shorter if you take them within 12 to 48 hours of showing flu symptoms.

Every year, about 200,000 people are hospitalized and 36,000 die because of seasonal flu. To find a flu vaccination clinic near you, call your local health department or pharmacy and ask for their flu shot schedule.

1 comment:

health123 said...

I'm glad to hear health officials say shots will be available, but I will wait and see if reality bears this out. They said similar things the past two years, when we had shortage and "distribution problems." I hope that the problems have truly been resolved this year.